The above photo showed up on my desktop background slideshow today and made me smile because of the amazing day it was taken on. During my time as a volunteer in Bali we heard so many people talking about the beautiful sunset at the Tanah Lot temple, so we knew we had to put it on our list of things-to-see.

Because it’s all about the sunset (let’s be honest, sometimes you just want that tourist experience and see the exact same thing everybody talks about), we left Ubud late in the afternoon – I was a bit worried that we might end up arriving when it’s already dark. But, of course, our local friends knew how to time our journey. What a fail that would have been. 

Once we made it to the west coast of Bali, we found ourselves at the rock formation called Tanah Lot, with its most famous temple Pura Tanah Lot. And thanks to the low tide, we were able to walk around on the stones leading into the Indian Ocean alongside hundreds of other visitors. Despite the many people walking around, taking pictures and collecting seashells, the overall atmosphere was not overly busy or hectic. In fact, I would describe the underlying mood as almost serene which was a nice change after the long week.

Looking back, I’m not sure whether I actually knew that there would be more than one temple, but I do remember our confusion when trying to figure out which one was the temple. So we would know which photos to show off when pretending to be all knowledgeable and Bali-savvy. In the end, after taking too many a couple photos of the entire area, we settled further up the path on the cliffs with a brilliant view of the sunset over the temple Pura Batu Bolong – that’s the one in the above photo.
(I want to say we went there to not be cliché tourists who only acknowledge the most famous temple, but it was really just because this one worked better with the sunset as backdrop.)

Once we had secured us a spot along the pathway, we got comfortable to watch the sky turn first pink, then black.
At exactly 6pm, without any warning or us knowing what was going on, a swarm of black flying thingies suddenly came out of the caves in the cliffs, flying high into the sky and doing those typical swarm formations. At first we thought those were birds but as they were coming closer we soon realized that they were in fact bats.

A huge swarm full of bats.

I’ve seen a couple bats here and there, hanging from trees or buildings but certainly never like this. It was both scary and so so amazing.

And that’s how this beautiful picture came to be!

Have you ever been to Tanah Lot or any other famous temple in Bali? Or had a surprising encounter with bats or other animals? Let me know in a message or down in the comments!

PS: We waited in our spot on the cliffs until it was pitch black and ended up searching for our friends for the ride back for a good half hour (because darkness). They were waiting at the entrance like any normal person would but let’s not talk about that.